Review: Temple Run
Temple Run is a tricky game to review in one sense. It's a title most people will be familiar with, but it's the first time it's been available on Windows Phone. So all you need to say is that 'it plays as well as other version'. But in another sense, it means the focus can be on the more technical details and how the app delivers the experience, The good news is that Temple Run delivers in this area as well.
Version Reviewed: 184.108.40.206
If you haven't encountered it, Temple Run is an endless running game, with a 3d perspective from slightly above and behind the hero (or heroine). Swipe the screen left or right to make the turns in the game, slide your finger up the screen to jump, down to slide/limbo under obstacles, and tilt very slightly left and right to move around the path you are on to pick up the coins that are scattered liberally around the game.
Temple Run is a free download, with the developer's income coming from in-app purchases. As you collect coins in the game, you can spend these on bonuses and power-ups to assist you in each run from the temple (i.e. the ability to resurrect when you die, essentially giving you an extra life, or starting you at the 1000 meter mark for an extra score). If you'd rather not wait and collect the coins, you can buy more from the Windows Store, starting at 79p for 2,500 coins - if you want to reward the devs, you can. It's a different way of earning money, and I suspect that in the long run it will be more profitable.
Temple Run is all about smooth graphics. You will be swiping to the sides to turn corners, up to jump, and down to slide, a lot. These are picked up without any slow-down in the on screen action, and while many people are complaining about swipes being missed in the Windows Store review, I feel I'm making just as many misses on Windows Phone as I do when playing on my iPad.
It's interesting that the occasional stutters in the application that I saw were mostly when the app loads graphics to portray a new area in the game for the first time. If I had to guess, I think that there's a lot of compression going on here which is only unpacked when it is needed - and with the best will in the world that's going to take a few frames. It's not something that I've seen again, so I presume the data has been placed in the Windows Phone cache after being unpacked.
This also likely explains the rather long load time the first time you run the application on your handset. It takes a noticeably long time to leave the developer's splash screen and move to the menu. Some feedback here on what is happening would be nice idea. Again this looks like a one time operation, with subsequent openings of the application experiencing a smaller delay.
Certainly while playing the game for a long period, the stutter from that first load as you move from brick path to cliff edge, to rickety bridges and to other terrains, is a smooth transition. And that's probably the best word to use for Temple Run. It's smooth.
To be honest, with Windows Phone 8 handsets matching the technical specifications of the leading Android handsets (and presumably in the same ballpark as the iPhone 5), I'd expect nothing else from Temple Run but to be comparable in terms of presentation with the other handsets. Part of me would expect it to be slightly better because the title has been out for eighteen months.
Any small issues there are will more than likely be with the Unity gaming engine, which is a very recent addition to Windows Phone 8, and Temple Run is one of the first apps in the Windows Store to make use of it. Unity is still technically in beta, which probably explains why Temple Run is not a XBox Live title on release - with that beta tag breaking some sort of rule in the certification processes - but it has everything a player would expect, including a number of objectives to help give the game it longevity it needs.
That's probably my only gaming complaint about Temple Run. It can be very repetitive, and it is a game of 100% reactions, with very little strategy or even decision making required on the part of the player. It purely is the challenge of 'run as far as you can' without the objectives, so I'm glad they have them here (shown above).
Temple Run has proven its model and popularity on other platforms. All it needed to do in the transition to Windows Phone was to not do anything silly, and simply do a one for one port. I'm glad to say they've managed it. The next question is not one for the developers, its one for the money men and the users. Will it make enough income to justify Temple Run 2 being ported?
I'm pretty sure it will.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at